Not having been selected again for a game with Thurrock, I'm having to scratch around for games elsewhere and fortunately because my kids play for B&PCC I've been able to play for them again and we got a match over at my local ground 'The Rec" at Langdon Hills.
The day before knowing that I had a game I went over and threw a few balls on the wicket to see if it offered any turn and bounce and it did - it looked very promising with all the flippers that I'm currently bowling. I did spend a while bowling the Leg Break as well, but that's still not coming out well at all. The thing was the practice on the wicket Saturday was under bright blue skies after a period of hot sunshine for the last few days with temperature in the 25 - 28 degree region. Then over night it rained quite heavily and the forecast for today was more rain.
So 2pm the game started with our captain 'Pinno the Spinno' opting to bat first which I found rather odd because once again we had what looked like a fairly weak side with really new players - young lads and a couple of older blokes. Whereas they looked mostly like blokes at the kind of age they'd be at the peak of their game?
The team comprised of B&PCC's 'G-Man' and may of his protege's that he'd trained over the last few years so he was frustrated to see all these younger blokes take the crease and swing the bat wildly at balls that were on the money as if they were in a T20 games. Needless to say 3 or 4 ducks later our innings ended with the whole team having been bowled out for 68? I went in last and felt as though there may have been a vague chance that I might see my PB as I joined 'G-Man' as the last pair, but came away not out for 0!
Needless to say trying to bowl them out for 67 wasn't going to be easy and they lost 2 wickets getting past 68. Shortly after though the rain came and even if the game had panned out better we'd have all been rained off anyway. I didn't get to bowl in this match which was a shame as I was interested in seeing how the new Flipper attack would work out. Interesting though they had an older bloke who bowled very slow loopy straight balls and he was very economic and I think he took at least 3 wickets. His length was good and consistent though.
It seems that every match that I've played in this season for one reason or another the game has been mis-matched and we've never had the slightest glimmer of hope. The only game that ever looked as though it was looking fair was a rained off match between two B&PCC teams at Mopsies Park where I'd taken a wicket.
More rain and chance to roll the Paddock
With the weather getting better of late and the dryness, the wicket has started to crumble a bit and get a bit pitted. I'd imagine that on wickets where it's relative grassless and this seems to be the case at Mopsies park they can get the wicket smooth by saturating it with water and rolling it when it's damp? I can't water it so I have to wait till we have rain. Shortly after I got back from the match it rained heavily and I took the opportunity to have a roll.
I'd read recently that they stick some kind of fabric on the wicket when rolling when it's damp otherwise the dirt sticks to the roller - sack cloth? I'd done some rudimentary experiments using the netting we use when we have our net practice and this seemed to work with just doing repairs and stamping the mud flat. So this evening I got a bucket of earth and did some work while the wicket was wet.
I pinned the net down in the area that we all bowl onto which obviously needs to be flat and rolled over the top of the net and straight away it was obvious that indeed this was a very good idea. I means I can stand on it when I'm rolling and because the net is taut, you can identify where the dips are and I was then able to do some filling in with the 'Repair dirt' and then roll it flat.
As you can see above the wicket in comparison with more recent shots of it appears to be far less grassy and a lot more muddy and therefore potentially flatter. I reckon it's important that there is established grass there or at least the roots sytem below the surface as this needless to say binds the surface together and reduces the chances of the earth/wicket surface breaking up and powdering. I'm fairly certain that the make-up of the earth at the minute what with it being a high percentage clay compound it'll dry very quickly and be subject to crazing. The good thing is that there is grass growing here and it's fairly established.
This shot above is the usually very rutted bowlers end which is just powder once it gets dry and becomes a dust bowl and is very uneven. So this evening I put a lot of earth down and used the same method with the net to flatten it. I suspect that once it does dry it wont hold together for very long as there's no grass growing here at all and will need to be repaired in the late summer with some new grass sewn. In the short term though my main objective now is just to get it flatter than it is and make it even.
This shot demonstrates how flat I am able to get it using this net and roller technique. I don't think I'm going to be able to get it really nice this year because it is a long term project and I am battling against all sorts of problems especially in the winter, but if I can keep getting the earth down and get it level as I did with the other end last year it looks potentially very promising for both ends next summer if I can get some seed down in the late summer - early autumn onto what will potentially be a massively flatter wicket.
The other thing I'm going to do is lower the blades again on the mower - possibly to the lowest cut option when I cut the grass in the wicket area and see if that makes a difference to our bowling and batting although even prior to this current maintenance the ball goes through fairly true and consistent. I just wish my lads realised how lucky they are to have this a couple of yards from the house and made use of it more!